Highlands & Islands

Councillors vote to reject Inverness see-saw artwork

The Gathering Place Image copyright Handout
Image caption The Gathering Place is among arts projects proposed for the River Ness

Councillors have voted to not go ahead with The Gathering Place, a see-saw-like arts installation that was planned for Inverness.

Highland Council's city of Inverness committee voted 10 votes to seven, with one abstention, to reject the project.

The installation, described as a tilting pier, was to be located outside Eden Court Theatre near the River Ness.

It had been proposed that The Gathering Place, which would cost more than £300,000, gently tilt up and down.

Councillors who voted against the project want to see other, lower cost, arts projects proposed for the city's riverside to be progressed.

'Silent majority'

Inverness provost Helen Carmichael said she had hoped The Gathering Place would be built.

She said: "I am naturally very disappointed in the decision today to abandon this keystone piece in the Inverness Arts Programme.

"The working group was asked to take forward this project and at every stage committee members agreed the progress.

"It is unfortunate that members felt today that they should be swayed by the views of a small vocal number of critics, rather than represent the silent majority and in particular, the support of many stakeholders in the business community and the views of young people who told us they wanted Inverness to be seen as a modern cultural city."

She added: "This decision will have significant financial consequences, which will mean a loss of some £75,000 already committed to this project. The group will now have to go back to our funding partners, Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to explore whether or not their funding contribution, which was dependent on The Gathering Place, can be put towards another project.

"As we made clear from the outset, these funds were never able to be used for council services such as filling potholes."

Image copyright Highland Council
Image caption The Gathering Place was to be designed to tilt gently up and down

The Gathering Place is an artistic collaboration between arts and design company Sans façon and the creative studio KHBT.

Chairman quit

It would form part of the £758,350 River Ness Art Project, which Creative Scotland would contribute £305,600 towards.

Other contributions of £280,750 would come from the City of Inverness Common Good Fund, £106,000 from Highland Council and £66,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The Gathering Place has had its up and downs.

Earlier this year, Highland councillor Ken Gowans quit as chairman of Inverness City Arts Working Group saying he did not believe The Gathering Place to be a viable concept.

There was opposition to the pier during public consultation on the project and more than 2,000 people signed a petition urging Highland Council not to push ahead with it.

Following the vote, Mr Gowans there were concerns a tilting pier would become the scene of anti-social behaviour.

He said: "The effect on the area around Eden Court was very controversial.

"There were concerns from the public that it may attract some unruly elements, but also that it was very close to the hospice."

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